Complex mixture behind air quality in Pictou County

Published on August 19, 2014

To the editor,
Re: Doctor expresses concern about pulp mill (The News, Aug. 16, 2014)

Good heavens! ALL local doctors should be expressing legitimate concerns about the pulp mill – AND about the Nova Scotia Power generating station in Trenton, AND about two dozen other point sources of air emissions that adversely affect breathing in Pictou County. They should be screaming at the top of their lungs. Environmental issues are human health issues.

Fifteen years ago (yes, people, this has been going on for decades and was a great deal worse then) I met with a number of local doctors – hoping to form an Air Quality Advisory Committee to investigate adverse health impacts due to air pollution in Pictou County. Every doctor told me she or he didn’t have the time to participate – but thought it was a great idea and wished me well in my work.

Didn’t have the time! Can you believe that? I wanted the local medical community to support local research into air quality and to help with the design and delivery of an epidemiological study – nothing doing.

I spent almost five years identifying, qualifying and quantifying the sources of air pollution in Pictou County. There are hundreds of point and non-point sources of air pollution in our county – some much worse than others, and often the less obvious ones are the most dangerous. Just for the record, the worst sources of particulate matter in Pictou County are non-point sources – which accumulatively are much worse than Northern Pulp.

When it comes to particulate matter in the air we breathe, why aren’t our doctors demanding the closure of the NS Power Generating Station in Trenton? The particulate matter from those stacks descends on all of Pictou County – it can eat the paint off cars and homes, ruin gardens and lawn furniture. God only knows what it does to human lungs! You can actually taste it if you breathe through your mouth. The people most affected, particularly in lower Trenton and Hillside, have expressed their health concerns and frustrations to our deaf governments  – and apparently to a deaf medical community too. Sad! Are the concerns of the Hillside Environmental Watch not sexy enough, nor crowd pleasing enough to get vocal support from our doctors?

I hope when members of our medical community climb onto the particulate – or in fact any other – bandwagon that they fully understand the immense complexity and complicated synergy of Pictou County’s air emissions – their causes and effects. The last time a bandwagon passed through our County it was advertising Dr. Merriweather’s Miraculous Elixir, made from All-Natural Snake Oil.

Robert Christie

RR2 Trenton